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BMW i3 Rated Four-Stars for Safety in EU Crash Tests

A score of four stars places the i3 in the same category as Mitsubishi's i-MiEV electric car.

Published: 01-Dec-2013

Euro NCAP, the European equivalent of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), recently released the results of its crash tests for a number of electric-drive vehicles, among them BMW's i3, which scored four-out-of-five stars. While a commendable score, it is not as good as that given the Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid. The Swedish carmaker has long been known for its safe vehicle design and the electric hybrid version of the V60 crossover 'wagon' maintained that tradition.

A four-star rating puts the i3 in the same class as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Renault Fluence ZE.

In terms of both adult passenger and child protection inside the vehicle during a crash, the i3 actually scored higher than the Chevrolet Volt. Where the i3 fell down was in the 'Safety Assist' category, scoring just 55. Safety assist is an amalgam of various safety features, including Intelligent Seat Belt Reminders, Electronic Stability Control and Speed Assistance systems. It scored thirty points below the all the other cars in the category.

While scoring well in most other respects, the overall rating has to come as a disappointment to BMW, which has been touting the benefits of its carbon fiber LIFE module design of its passenger cabin for its strength and light weight. While carbon fiber has been used extensively in Formula One race cars and crash tested with real human beings aboard during races, its use in mass manufactured consumer vehicles is very much still in its infancy with much yet to be learned about its strengths and weaknesses. EV World's Tech Editor is an expert in aerospace composites and notes that companies are still learning about the properties of the material and working to upgrade their computer design programs to better utilize it in designing everything from aircraft parts to automobiles.

Clearly this situation also appears to apply to the i3, though on close inspection, the problem with the car is more related to its onboard electronics, then its passenger crash protection.

Euro NCAP has not rated the Tesla Model S, which scored a perfect five stars in NHTSA crash tests.

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